The University of Massachusetts Amherst
Academics

Classes offered regularly

Here you will find some examples of classes that we offer at UMass that fulfill the film studies certificate requirements. This is NOT the official class list for any one semester--just an example of the kinds of classes you can take under film studies! To see what classes are being offered currently or in the coming semesters, visit our current classes page.

ART 230 - Photography I - 3 Credits
Instructor: Susan Jahoda
Open to BA-ART, BFA-ART, and BDIC students only. Film Study Certificate students by instructor permission.
            Introduction to photographic tools and methods. The balance between self-inquiry and the importance of process and materials as vehicles of meaning. Theory explored through class critiques and slide presentations. Photography examined and discussed both from a personal point of view and in its wider cultural context.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: V

ART 274 - Animation Fundamentals - 3 Credits
Instructor: Patricia Galvis-Assmus           
Prerequisite: Art 104, 110, 120, or 131
            Introduction to traditional animation techniques as used in fine art animation and experimental film/video.  Basics of locomotion, timing, lighting, camera moves, exposure, sound design and audio and visual editing.  Studio course.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: V

ART 374 - Int. Computer Animation - 3 Credits
Instructor: Shane Mecklenburger           
Prerequisite: Art 104, 110, 120, or 131. Students may enroll without prerequisites with permission of the instructor.
            First half of a two-semester sequence. With studio. Principles and applications of computer animation using Crater and Alias Maya software in film, video, music, and technology. Introduction to 2D and 3D animation programs. Skills acquired in preparation for production in second semester. Emphasis on professionalism and quality. Should be followed by 397, 3D Computer Animation.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: V

COMM 140 - Introduction to Film Studies - 3 Credits
Instructor: Anne Ciecko
Open to Sophomores & Freshmen only.
            This course offers an introduction to the study of film as a distinct medium. It introduces the ways in which film style, form, and genre contribute to the meaning and the experience of movies. Topics include film as industrial commodity, narrative and non-narrative form, aspects of style (e.g. composition, cinematography, editing, and sound), and the role of film as a cultural practice. Examples are drawn from new and classic films, from Hollywood and from around the world. This course is intended to serve as a basis for film studies courses you might take in the future.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: I, V

COMM 231 - Film and Television Production Concepts - 3 Credits
Instructor: Kevin Anderson
Open to undeclared students, SBS Exploratory Track students, and Communication majors only.
Open to COMM and Undeclared majors, or to students who have taken either COMM 118, 121, 122, 125, or 140. 75 seats reserved for COMM majors.  Students wishing to enroll who do not meet course eligibility should contact instructor.
            This class provides an overview of film and television production principles and processes from script to screen and also prepares students for later hands-on production courses. We will explore both the art and craft of film and video production, including the roles and functions of the major creative and technical personnel in the scripting;pre-production, production and post-production phases. Technical aspects such as digital vs. analog media, lighting, lenses, types of film and videotape, crew organization and function, editing concepts, sound recording, etc.  will be discussed, as well as creative functions such as dramatic and documentary structure, creating characters, acting for the screen, visualization and composition for the camera and more.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: I,V

COMM 296F - Independent Study: Film Festival - 1 Credit
Instructor: Anne Ciecko
Comm 296F is open to all undergraduate students, all majors. Since the festival screenings change each semester, Comm 296F can be taken multiple times.
            This is a 1-credit Mandatory Pass/Fail course.  Film screening.  This festival colloquium will be held in conjunction with one or more semester-long film festivals.

COMM 331 - Program Process in TV - 3 Credits
Instructor: David Maxcy
Open to Senior, Junior and Sophomore Communication majors only. Journalism Majors and Film Certificate Students by permission of the instructor, djmaxcy@comm.umass.edu
            This course introduces concepts and techniques of television production through weekly lectures and lab meetings.  During the first six weeks basic concepts and techniques are introduced in lecture.  Students then break up into lab groups where, under the supervision of their lab instructor, they produce a short program which puts the concept of the week to work.  During the course students work on two major projects:  first, a short, narrative piece shot in single-camera, post-production style, and, second, a multiple camera piece shot live in the studio.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: V

COMM 340 - History Of Film I - 3 Credits
Instructor: Shawn Shimpach
Open to Senior and Junior Communication majors only.
            Lecture, lab (screening), discussion.  A survey of key events and representative films that mark the history of motion pictures in the United States and other countries to 1950.  In addition to identifying and providing access to major works, the course is designed to facilitate the study of the various influences (industrial, technological, aesthetic, social, cultural, and political) that have shaped the evolution of the medium to the advent of television.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: II, V

COMM 397B - Intro Studio Directing - 3 Credits
Instructor: David Maxcy
Open to Senior, Junior and Sophomore Communication majors only. Journalism Majors and Film Certificate Students by permission of the instructor, djmaxcy@comm.umass.edu
            Students will learn basic concepts and techniques of studio television production, with a focus on directing live programs in a full-scale studio facility on the UMASS campus.  The course includes lecture presentations, production exercises, script-writing projects, and studio production projects.   Finally, each student will write, produce, and direct a live studio production.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: V

COMM 397TV - TV Studio Operations, Production Design & Production - 3 Credits
Instructor: David Maxcy
Open to Senior, Junior and Sophomore Communication majors only.
            This course explores the links between technical operations, creative production design, and actual production in the live, multiple-camera HD studio environment. Though loaded with technology, the television studio is, from the first instance through the last, a creative environment with tools aimed at production of meaningful content. This course will explore and put to work the concepts and techniques fundamental to multiple-camera studio production in the HD studio environment. These include conceptualization, visualization, and writing for multiple-camera, wide-screen production; and production design, including staging, set design, photography, lighting, sound, and graphic design. Students will learn and practice skills including light placement and mixing, videography using the HD studio camera, sound pickup and mixing, and graphics. Students will realize all of this work in collaborative, final studio production projects.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: V

COMM 441 -  Principles and Techniques of Film Style Production - 3 Credits
Instructor: Kevin Anderson
Open to Senior and Junior Communication majors only. Prerequisite: COMM 231 and 331.
            A hands-on introduction to single-camera filmmaking using digital video camcorders and non-linear editing.  Production assignments will foster student skills in the art of visual storytelling: from pre-production, shot composition and lighting to continuity editing and post production audio.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: IV, V

COMM 445 - Screenwriting - 3 Credits
Instructor: Bruce Geisler
Open to Senior and Junior Communication majors only.
            An examination of the art, craft, and business of screenwriting from theoretical and practical perspectives.  Topics include screenplay format and structure, story, plot and character development, dialog and scene description, visual storytelling, pace and rhythm, analysis of professional and student scripts and films.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: IV, V

COMM 446 - Film Documentary - 3 Credits
Instructor: Bruce Geisler
Open to Seniors & Juniors only. Prerequisite: either COMM 140 (formerly 240), 231, 340, 342 or 445 (formerly 493E.), or by permission of the instructor at geisler@comm.umass.edu.
            We will view, analyze, and discuss films by modern documentary masters such as Michael Moore ("Sicko"), Chris Paine, ("Revenge of the Electric Car"), Seth Gordon ("The King of Kong - A fistful of Quarters"), Pamela Yates ("Granito") and many  others to further the understanding of the documentary craft and art from a filmmaker's perspective.  Students will also do preproduction (research and treatment) for their own short documentary, along with shorter hands-on exercises in writing narration, interview techniques, etc.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, IV, V

COMM 493L - Experimental Film and Video - 3 Credits
Instructor: Kevin Anderson
Open to Seniors & Juniors only.
            This course explores the genre of Experimental Film and Video with a critical eye toward the history and current articulations of this form of production in both feature film and short form movies and videos. The course begins with an introduction to the genre, then explores Experimental Film; video according to three different categories: Experimentation with Narrative, Experimentation with Structure/Form, and Experimentation with the line between Fact and Fiction. Students will emerge from this course with a solid foundation in the history  and theory of experimental film/video as evidenced by writing projects, research papers, and student-produced experimental media projects.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, IV, V

COMM 494BI - Countercultural Films - 3 Credits
Instructor: Bruce Geisler
Open to Seniors & Juniors only. Or by permission of instructor @geisler@comm.umass.edu.
            An exploration of the counter-cultural movements of the 1960s and 70s and later, hosted by someone who was there and lived to tell the tale.  Through the medium of documentary and fiction films, we will delve into the musical, sexual, artistic, political and spiritual upheavals that rocked America and Europe back then and that continue to reverberate today. This course satisfies the Integrative Experience requirement for BA-Comm majors.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, IV, V

COMP-LIT 197FA - Introduction to Film Analysis: Cinematic Time Travel - 3 Credits
Instructor: Barry Spence
            This is an introduction to film studies and to the analysis of film. The course explores the complex nature and cultural function of cinema by focusing on time travel as both a central theme of a wide range of films and as a way of understanding how cinema works as a time-based medium. By studying films from various points in the global history of cinema - including films from nine countries and five continents - this course performs a transcultural introduction to the formal and stylistic aspects of cinematic storytelling.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: I, V

COMP-LIT 383 - Narrative Avant-Garde Film - 4 Credits
Instructor: Don Levine
            Focus on narrative problems of love, desire, sexual identity, daily life, and death. These films' investigations of how we might gain distance on our life fictions by questioning and undermining viewer identification with narrative.  (Gen.Ed. AT)
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: II, V

COMP-LIT 391A - Introduction History of Animation - 3 Credits
Instructor: Christopher Couch
            This course traces the history of animation from the late 19th century to today, including short and feature-length films from the United States, Europe and Japan. Topics will include the Fleischer, Disney and UPA studios, directors from Emil Cole to Hayao Miyazaki, and experimental animators including Oskar Fischinger and John Canemaker. Animation for television, including Jay Ward's Rocky and Bullwinkle and Matt Groening's The Simpsons will also be considered.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, V

FILM-ST 397E - Film at the End of the World - 3 Credits
Instructor: Daniel Pope
            What insights do films with end-of-the-world scenarios, dystopian futures, and post-apocalyptic themes offer into the cultural moment that produces them?  From alien invasions and planetary collisions to cataclysmic war and totalitarian dystopias, from the zombie apocalypse and the rise of machines, to human extinction and the end of civilization, what do these films tell us about contemporary realities?  How do they speak to our anxieties and fears about the future as well as our hopes and aspirations?  In what ways do these films pose and explore questions of the "human"?  End-of-the-world films often intersect with other genres (thriller, action film, neo-noir, comedy, art-house, romance, drama, experimental, etc.)  In this course we will study the cinema of eschatology, of ultimate endings, and analyze a range of filmic approaches to the philosophical, psychological, and aesthetic questions raised in end-of-the-world narratives.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, V

FILM-ST 497T - Film Theory - 3 Credits
Instructor: Barry Spence
            This course provides an in-depth overview of the key theoretical approaches to the study of cinema by examining historically significant ways of analyzing film form and its social and cultural functions and effects. The course seeks to equip students with a command of the diverse history of theoretical frameworks for understanding the medium and experience of cinema, from early concerns over film's relation to other arts to the way the movie as a cultural form has been reconceptualized within the contemporary explosion of new media. The pressing relevance of film theory becomes clear once we stop to consider--taking just one small example--the many implications of a society-wide movement away from the collective experience of movies in a public theater to private viewing with earbuds on the tiny screen of a cell phone or tablet. We will explore a wide range of questions (concerning the nature of the cinematic medium and its apparatus, aspects of the spectator's experience of film, and the aesthetic and ideological dimensions of film genre, to name just a few) as a way of putting ourselves in dialogue with various film theoreticians. And we will ground our examination by looking at cinematic practice in relation to theory. This will be done through regular film screenings throughout the semester. Feature length films drawn from various points in the history of cinema, as well as a selection of film clips will be used to illustrate and discuss the various theories.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: II, IV, V

FILM-ST 497V – Video Essay in Film Criticism - 3 Credits
Instructor: Daniel Pope
            This is a course in planning, scripting, and editing video essays in film criticism, working with films from around the world and across film history.  The field of film criticism is taking new forms in recent years, with social media, podcasts, websites and blogs dedicated to analyzing and discussing movies.  Out of this trend, the video essay emerges as an exceptionally attractive and powerful medium for the film critic.  In this class, we examine a wide array of video essays and explore the unique analytical and expressive opportunities the medium offers.  A primary emphasis in the course is the study and practice of film criticism as an intellectual and creative endeavor with its own particular objectives, challenges, and expressive powers.  With this foundation, we develop the critical, creative, and technical skills necessary for making effective video essays addressing films, directors, genres, national cinemas, and cultural and social issues.  Making a video essay is in many ways like making a movie.  As such we are engaged not only in film analysis and film writing but also in video editing, image composition, sound design, and other aspects of moving image media.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: II, IV, V

FRENCH-ST 350 - French Film - 4 Credits
Instructor: Philippe Baillargeon
            This French film survey course in English will introduce a variety of French films (with English subtitles) of different genres dating from the 1930s to the present, which we will interpret on their own terms, in relation to other films, and with respect to their specific historical contexts of time and place. At the end of this course, you will be able analyze films and their different genres as cultural products, identify the values transmitted within these works of art, critically discuss films with the technical vocabulary of film analysis, and interpret films as complex creative works within their specific settings of time and place in French history. To this end, we will focus on food and meals and how this theme reflects economic realities, national obsessions, behavioral conventions, and societal transformations.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, V

ITALIAN 350 - Italian Film - 4 Credits
Introduction: Andrea Malaguti
            This course is a historical overview of how the most modern form of visual and narrative art responded to Italian culture, i.e. one of the richest traditions in painting, mosaic, and theater. From silent movies to current productions, the history of Italian film parallels and documents also the history of a modern nation, from pre-industrial to post-industrial economy. The course is conducted entirely in English. It re-examines Italian neo-realism and the filmmakers’ project of social reconstruction after Fascism. This course shows how Italian film produces meanings and pleasures through semiotics and psychoanalysis, so as to understand the specific features of Italian cinema, its cultural politics, and the Italian contribution to filmmaking and formal aesthetics.
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, V

PORTUG  408 - Brazil in Film & Fiction - 4 Credits
Instructor: Luiz Amaral
            The principal aim of this course is to introduce students to Brazilian culture through film and selected readings, by focusing on how filmmakers, writers, and artists represent key aspects of Brazilian society past and present: the colonization process; culture contact between Europeans and native Brazilians; slavery and race relations; economic development; immigration and internal migration; life in the backlands; urban problems; the dictatorship and its aftermath; contemporary Brazil.  A second aim of the course is to study the development of Brazilian cinema through the past few generations, especially the important movement known as cinema novo.  A third aim is to develop analytical skills and writing abilities. Course and readings in English; films have subtitles. (Gen.Ed. AL, DG)
UMASS UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, IV, V

New Course on Media Textuality:

Comm 797T - Analyzing Media Textuality
Instructor: Shawn Shimpach
            The premise of this course is that textual analysis benefits from an understanding of textuality. Close analysis of texts is a foundational method within many disciplinary approaches and an especially central approach to both film and media studies, producing exemplary case studies as well as the basis for more expansive inquiries. This course will offer an exploration of the intellectual foundations of textual studies and a careful consideration of theories of textuality. It will seek to revisit and reconsider the media text amid twenty-first century practices of seriality and transmedia franchise building, global interconnectivity, digital production and distribution, and intersubjective consumption, in which the boundaries of textuality are forever changing and porous. It will consider the text as discourse, the text as social practice, the text as data, the text as cognition, and the text as site of evolving technogenesis. Participants in the course will develop skills in the analysis and interpretation of media texts through approaches to form, structure, narrative, and genre; the ability to identify and understand medium specificity; experience with both "close reading" and "distant reading" practices; and a recognition of and familiarity with the critical frameworks from which these are all explicitly or implicitly drawn.


GRADUATE COURSES

PORTUG  697A- Brazil in Film & Fiction - 4 Credits
Instructor: Luiz Amaral
            The principal aim of this course is to introduce students to Brazilian culture through film and selected readings, by focusing on how filmmakers, writers, and artists represent key aspects of Brazilian society past and present: the colonization process; culture contact between Europeans and native Brazilians; slavery and race relations; economic development; immigration and internal migration; life in the backlands; urban problems; the dictatorship and its aftermath; contemporary Brazil.  A second aim of the course is to study the development of Brazilian cinema through the past few generations, especially the important movement known as cinema novo.  A third aim is to develop analytical skills and writing abilities. Course and readings in English; films have subtitles.

SPAN 797GG The Gender of Genre
Instructor: Barbara Zecchi
            By tackling the so-called gender-genre debate, this class will analyze how women filmmakers use (or subvert) different male-dominated cinematic forms (such as neo-realism, the road movie, the film noir, etc.), thus shaping a female discursive idiosyncrasy. Taught in Spanish.

SPAN  597T - Catalan Cinema & Fiction - 1 Credit
Instructors: Barbara Zecchi, Guillem Molla
            "Spanish" cinema started in Catalonia with two important schools: the realistic school led by Fructuós Gelabert, and the fantastic trend represented by Segundo de Chomón. After the silence forced upon Catalan cinema during Franco’s dictatorship in the 40’s and 50’s, it started to regain an important role in the film industry with the Barcelona School in the mid 60’s. Presently Catalan Cinema enjoys a strong recognition thanks to the works of well-known Catalan directors such as Bigas Luna, Ventura Pons and Isabel Coixet, among others. Films are shown in the original language (Catalan or Castilian) w/ English subtitles.

AFROAM  591C SEMINAR- DIGITAL VIDEO PRODUCTION AND RESEARCH IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY - 1 Credit
Instructor: Demetria Shabazz
            This course aims to increase the utility and impact of research produced at UMass by creating, adapting, implementing, supporting, and sustaining innovative digital tools and publishing platforms for content delivery, discovery, analysis, data curation, and preservation. It will also engage students in extensive outreach, education, and advocacy to ensure that scholarly work in the Du Bois Department has a global reach and accelerates the pace of research across disciplines.
The course will teach visual methodological research methods and digital camera usage to explore social networks, the inclusion of community partners in research, and black neighborhood and community spaces. We draw on the substantive and methodological experiences of visual researchers using photography, film, and video and the evident challenges of representing such a diversely situated experience as that of African Americans. We will discuss and learn camera use and operation, data collection and analysis, ethical concerns, community partnerships, refinement of research questions, and theoretical use and development of imagery in research regarding the African American community.
I welcome working with graduate students, and undergraduates, Emerging Scholars, and Commonwealth Honors College students. 
The course can focus on your own research project and/or connect with a new video production of the Du Bois Department we will begin that will air on Amherst Media. Contact Prof. Dee Shabazz at dshabazz@umass.edu for more details on the course.

ANTHRO  697CR SPECIAL TOPICS- COMICS, CARTOONS AND COMMUNICATING ANTHROPOLOGY - 1 Credit
Instructor: Sonya Atalay
            Description: This course focuses on the potential of comics, animation and other visual approaches as a valuable part of the research toolkit. We will read what others have said about this topic, but will spend the bulk of our time learning to create comics and animations that communicate research. You will be required to produce a graphic novel and an animation about your dissertation, thesis, or a research topic that interests you. You will also be required to write reflections about the readings and about your comic/animation production process. Drawing skills are not required - many of the methods we explore don't rely on any form of drawing, other methods involve simple stick figure sketching. In our hyper-visual culture, presenting research in a visually engaging way can have a powerful impact. Visual methods, like comics and animation, aid us in telling engaging, memorable stories about our work. Storytelling is an important skill in the research toolkit ? successful grant writing, giving a compelling presentation, or authoring books and articles all require us to communicate the story of our research in a compelling way. Furthermore, creating visual stories through comics and animation is fun; it brings much needed creativity to our work lives and to our research, while at the same time helping to democratize knowledge, and fulfilling our ethical responsibilities to share scholarship outside the academy. These tools allow us to move academic knowledge into the hands and minds of public audiences, policy makers, community partners, and other scholars, in our own field and across disciplines.

COMP-LIT  695C SEMINAR- MELODRAMA EFFECT (FASSBINDER, GODARD, SIRK) - 1 Credit
Instructor: Don Levine
            Description: What were Godard's early films for Fassbinder? Instead of rejecting the most influential avant-garde film maker of the sixties, Fassbinder adopted Godard as father. Yet this fathering was a highly selective progeneration. What does the juxtaposition of these film makers reveal and conceal - and not only about Fassbinder's films, since we cannot now see those of Godard without having our past viewings of Fassbinder films in our heads. Fassbinder sets us on track with two remarks: "Godard believes that film is the truth 24 frames per second, while I believe film is the lie 25 frames per second," and "Both Godard and I despise our characters." 
The course will raise theoretical issues of spectatorship, tone (irony, distanciation, citation) gender, genre, while being firmly grounded in the formal analysis of filmic text; the construction of the filmic text and its "meaning," and the destruction of subject by means of abyssal structures (mises-en-abyme, structural or metaphoric infinite regresses); Fassbinder's ideological fatigue and complex sexual politics, Godard's political innocence (which is not the same as naivete), his cinematic energy amidst his films' increasing cultural despair. 
Pre-requisites: familiarity with film theory and discourse, preferably by at least two courses in film analysis. 
Course meets as intensive seminar, once a week for 4 hours. "Films include: Sirk -' All that Heaven Allows', Godard - 'Vivre sa vie' ;Fassbinder - 'Ali', 'Petra von Kant',' 13 Moons', 'Veronica Voss'; Haynes -' Far from Heaven'."

OTHER POTENTIAL COURSES:

Please Note: All pre-approved graduate courses with Film as central focus/significant component have been included in the above list. Other seminars, including the following, may be considered for potential pre-approval upon request of the student, based on syllabus and instructor consultation (confirming film/video content and ability to do film studies-focused projects), as well as relevance to individual Certificate plans of study. Course descriptions are available on Spire. Please note enrollment restrictions, if applicable:

ART 574 ANIMATION FUNDAMENTALS
Instructor: Patricia Galvis-Assmus
Open to Masters Art majors only. Please consult the instructor regarding any additional prerequisites.

ARTS-EXT 500 INTRO TO ARTS MANAGEMENT
Instructor: Dee Boyle-Clapp

ART 691A SEM-N.Y. POP
Instructor: Jenny Vogel
Currently restricted on Spire to Art Masters students only.

COMM 797T - 01 ST-Analyzing Media Textuality
Instructor: Shawn Shimpach
Open to Communication graduate students only.

GERMAN 797R FINDING REFUGE
Instructor: Ela Gezen
No restrictions currently indicated on Spire, but please confirm eligibility with the instructor.